Public health emergencies can be caused by events which impact on public health or events that can potentially overwhelm the health-system.

For example, a highly infectious disease spreading through the community, health impacts arising from emergencies (for example smoke from a major fire or waterborne diseases during a flood), and any mass casualty situations or weather-related events such as thunderstorm asthma.

Examples of significant public health emergencies include the Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016, and the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Publish year Assurance activity Summary Organisation
2023 Curbing antimicrobial resistance: A technology-powered, human-driven approach to combating the ‘silent pandemic' (External link) An report outlining the challenges for Australia and the world to avoid being thrust back into a pre-antimicrobial age where simple infections are deadly and some surgeries are too risky to perform. It calls for greater national coordination and a focus on streamlining commercialisation processes for new antimicrobial resistance solutions and technologies. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
2023 Business Continuity During COVID-19 (External link) An audit of all eight Victorian Government departments' business continuity arrangements, it assessed preparedness for a major disruption prior to COVID-19 and the effectiveness of arrangements to maintain prioritised services during the pandemic. The report made nine recommendations, concluding that most departments’ business continuity arrangements were inadequate prior to the pandemic. Victorian Auditor-General's Office
2022 Business Continuity during COVID-19 (External link) An examination of all eight Victorian Government departments - plus IT provider Cenitex - on their preparation for a major disruption prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and if plans were effectively implemented to maintain prioritised services during the pandemic. Victorian Auditor-General's Office
2022 Minimising risks of asbestos exposure and associated harm in Victoria 2022 (External link) A report that aims to improve the health and safety outcomes of all Victorians who may come into contact with asbestos and prevent future deaths from asbestos-related disease, it makes 21 recommendations towards prevention of disease and, ultimately saving lives. It recommends the appointment of a senior manager role within state government to work solely with local governments on asbestos management issues to assist in the development of a range of communications, guidelines and asbestos management policies including preparation for, and response to, emergency events. Independent
2022 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Implementation of recommendations and affirmations - Progress Report 2021 (External link) IGEM’s sixth report as sole monitor on the progress of the implementation of recommendations and affirmations from the 2014 and 2015–16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports, it summarises implementation progress to August 2021, of the eight government actions and one recommendation directed to the Latrobe Valley coal mine operators that were reported as in progress in IGEM’s Progress Report 2020. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2022 Ombudsman's recommendations - fourth report (External link) A summary of the outcomes and improvements following 11 Ombudsman reports and recommendations tabled in Parliament in between May 2020 and December 2021. The reports span two years when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to inequality, disadvantage and vulnerability. Victorian Ombudsman
2022 Review of COVID-19 Communications in Victoria (External link) An assessment of the Victorian Government’s approach relating to pandemic orders and health related communications against best practice. The report found that significant effort was made to ensure the timely provision of consistent and relevant information utilising a diversity of methods and platforms. Independent
2022 Human Biosecurity for International Air Travellers during COVID-19 (External link) An audit conducted to provide assurance that human biosecurity for international air travellers has been managed effectively, the Auditor-General made six recommendations to improve governance arrangements and ensure that departmental systems for traveller processing adequately support human health outcomes. Australian National Audit Office
2022 Review of COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Orders in Victoria (External link) An assessment of vaccine mandates imposed on workers through pandemic orders, the report found that while the benefits of vaccine mandates protected essential services and supply chains, reduced economic disruptions and protected the health system, the decision-making process for why classes of workers were included in pandemic orders was not clearly communicated. Independent
2022 Fault Lines - An independent review into Australia's response to COVID-19 (External link) An independent review that aims to learn the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in order for Australia to be better prepared for future health crises, it makes four findings where improvements can be made, and six recommendations to put societal fault lines at the centre of improving response to the next health crisis. Independent